Chandu Shah was a Diwan in the Mughal court. Originally he was a Punjabi and belonged to Kalanaur in district Gurdaspur. He had a daughter for whom he was looking for a suitable Punjabi groom.
Pandits suggested the name of (Guru) Hargobind for her daughter.
But Chandu Shah was considering himself one of the richest men of Delhi.
When the emissaries told him about the personality of (Guru) Hargobind and the grandeur of his father he smiled and said, 'After all he lives on the offerings of his devotees, he has no political power. A brick baked for a place cannot be used for sewer.'
Chandu Shah's wife objected for such mean and worthless remarks.she said, '(Guru) Hargobind is an excellent match for their daughter. You should send the Pandits to finalize the proposal without any delay.'
The remarks of Chandu Shah leaked and when the Sikhs of Delhi came to know of it, they conveyed those to the Guru and also requested him not to accept the proposal of such a conceited man.
Chandu Shah sent Pandits to Amritsar. But the Guru who had been made aware of Chandu Shah's remarks, declined to accept the proposal.
He said, 'The daughter of a rich man like Chandu Shah will not adjust in the house of a Faqir. So I do not accept the proposal. You should select a suitable house for her and from my side consider this matter dropped forever.'
When the Pandits informed Chandu Shah about it and returned him the proposal gifts, he lost his temper and vowed to avenge himself on the Guru for the insult hurled on him.
As long as King Akbar was alive, Chandu was unable to do any harm to the Guru.
But after his death Jahangir became the King of India and King Jahangir was against Guru Arjan Dev since a long time. He could not bear the popularity of the Guru. He determined to kill him.
But he could not find the appropriate reason. But when he was informed by Murtaza Khan that he had met Prince Khusro he got the apparent evidence to eliminate him. When he was going to Kashmir, he summoned Guru Arjan Dev to meet him at Lahore.
King Jahangir also wrote in his biography:
'A Hindu named Arjan lived at Goindwal...simple minded Hindus and ignorant and foolish Muslims have been persuaded to adopt his ways... this business has been flourishing for three generations. For a long time it had been in my mind to put a stop to this affair or to bring him into the fold of Islam...'
When the Guru received the message of the King, he called his son (Guru) Hargobind and installed him as the sixth Guru.
Then the Guru took leave of the Sikhs and left for Lahore.
The King Jahangir asked the Guru to revise the holy Granth and to add in it some hymns in praise of Mohammad.
The Guru said, 'The holy Granth is a revelation in praise of God, no one can alter it.'
Then he asked the Guru to embrace Islam.
But the Guru said, 'It is better to die than to change religion.'
As Guru did not bow before the demands of Jahangir, the Qazi gave an injunction ordering the Guru to be tortured to death.
Chandu Shah met Murtza Khan, the Governor of Lahore and requested that the Guru should be handed over to him to torture him to death.
King Jahangir had already left for Kashmir. Murtaza Khan had no objection in handing over him the Guru.
Next day Chandu started his process of torturing.
He was first asked to sit on a burning sand, then he was asked to sit on a red hot iron sheet. There they poured burning hot sand on his body. He was also asked to sit in boiling water. As the process of torturing was on, Sain Mian Mir, Muslim Saint of Lahore, came and requested the Guru to allow him to use his miracle power to overthrow those who were torturing him>'
Hearing this the Guru said, 'We should accept the Will of God. A leaf does not move without the order of the God.'
He was tortured for five days. But the turants found that he was bearing all the torments with perfect peace.
According to some Historical Sources it is said that Guruji's 5 days of torture took place at Chandu's place.
Day 1 of Torture
Guru was not given anything to eat or drink. He was not allowed to sleep at night. He was kept awake. Guru bore all this calmly. He remained immersed in Simran and repeated from his lips, 'WaaheGuru, WaaheGuru, WaaheGuru...' and sang Shabads from Gurbani.
Day 2 of Torture
On the following day, Chandu made the Guru sit in a red-hot caldron. He filled the vessel with water. He ordered his men to light a fire under the copper vessel. The water began to get hot. After a time, the water began to boil. It Scalded the Guru's body.
But Guru ji sat calmly and quietly. He felt no pain, nor did He cry out or even sigh. He felt no anger against those who were torturing him. He remained absorbed in the sweet remembrance of Waheguru and repeated,
'All is happening, O Waheguru, according to Thy Will. Thy Will is ever sweet to me.'
The boiling water made the Guru's flesh soft and left blisters all over the body.
Day 3 of Torture
On the third day, Chandu ordered his men, 'Make some sand red hot in iron pans. Seat the Guru in boiling Water. Then pour the red hot sand on his head and body.'
The water boiled Guru ji's flesh from below. The burning red hot sand burned Guru ji's head and body from above. The persons engaged in torturing him were wet with sweat. They felt most uncomfortable because of the heat. It was the hottest summer month.
But Guru ji kept calm and quiet. Again, Guru Jee felt no pain, nor did he cry out, sigh or feel anger. He kept thinking of Waheguru and doing Simran.
Guru ji repeated:
Teraa kee-aa meethaa laagai.
(O Waheguru! Your actions seem so sweet to me.)
Har naam padaarath naanak maangai.
(Nanak begs for the treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord.)
On hearing this, Guru's friend and devotee, Mian Mir, a Muslim saint, rushed to see him.
When Mian Mir saw the ghastly scene, he cried out and said, 'O Master! I cannot bear to see these horrors inflicted on thee. If you permit me, I would demolish this tyrant rule.'
The Guru smiled and asked Mian Mir to look towards the skies.
It is said that Mian Mir saw Angels begging the Guru's permission to destroy the wicked and the proud.
The Guru said, 'All is happening in accordance with the Will of God. Men who stand for Truth have often to suffer. Their sufferings give strength to the cause of Truth. Go, brother. Pray for me. Pray for the success of my cause. Pray for victory to the truth.'
Mian Mir asked, why was he enduring the suffering at the hands of his vile sinners when he possesseth superpowers?
The Guru replied, 'I bear all this torture to set an example to the Teachers of True Name, that they may not lose patience or rail at God in affliction. The true test of faith is the hour of misery. Without examples to guide them, ordinary person's minds quail in the midst of suffering.'
Upon this Mian Mir departed commending the Guru's fortitude and singing his praises.
Day 4 of Torture
On the fourth day, Guru ji was made to sit on a plate of iron that was heated from below until it became red hot. Then scalding hot sand was poured over his body.
Guru ji sat calm and quiet, without a cry or sigh, feeling no pain. He sat with his mind fixed on Waheguru, living the message of Gurbaani as he accepted the Will of God sweetly.
Day 5 of Torture
On the fifth day, Chandu thought to suffocate him in a fresh cowhide, in which he was to be sewn up. Instead the Guru asked for a bath in Ravi river which flowed embracing the walls of Lahore city.
Chandu revelled at the thought that the Guru's body full of blisters, would undergo greater pain when dipped in cold water and he permitted him to bathe in the river.
The soldiers were sent to escort the Guru.
Crowds watched the Master standing in the river and having a dip.
The light blended with Light and the body was found nowhere.
Hail to the Master! Thou art Wonderful- Martyr, the greatest. Thou art the Greatest!
Guru Arjan sowed the seed of martyrdom, which became the heritage of the Sikhs.
Bhai Gurdas, a contemporary of Guru Arjan Dev and the pioneering scribe of Guru Granth Sahib, summed up:
'Like a rain-bird, thirsting only for a drop of rain and no other water, Guru Arjan Dev Ji abandoned all worldly opportunities offered to him and desired but an abiding repose in the love and will of God. So deeply was he absorbed in the undisturbed and unbroken vision of the Lord, that his enlightened and elevated spirit conquered all sorrow and pain and his soul rested peacefully in the eternal embrace of God's love. I am a sacrifice unto Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the Perfect one.'
'The Lord of man and beast is working in all; His presence is scattered everywhere; There is none else to be seen. One talks, another listens; God is in both. He is the Unity and Himself the Diversity.' (Sukhmani XX11.1)
'In the company of saints man learns how to turn enemies into friends, As he becomes completely free from evil, And bears malice to none. In the company of the good, there is no swerving from the path, No looking down upon anybody as evil. Man sees all round him the Lord of Supreme Joy, And freeing himself from the feverish sense of self, Abandons all pride. Such is the efficacy of fellowship with a holy man, whose greatness is known only to the Lord: The servant of the ideal is akin to his Master.' (Sukhmani V11.3)
'He is a prince among men Who has effaced his pride in the company of the good, He who deems himself as of the lowly, Shall be esteemed as the highest of the high. He who lowers his mind to the dust of all men's feet, Sees the Name of God enshrined in every heart.' (Sukhmani 111.6)